The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government (FOG) is disappointed with Judge Joshua Allison’s determination today in the case NM Restaurant Association, et al., v. NM Department of Health, et al.D-202-CV-2020-04272.
FOG believes that providing the public with access to information about the workings of government results in better government. The Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA) itself underscores the importance of this premise. Access to public records is an essential function of government and part of the duties of government officials.
The IPRA issue in this case is an important one.
FOG believes the standard response time is “immediate” not 15 days. A number of public bodies believe that upon receiving an IPRA request, the custodian should send out a “three-day notice” which notifies the requester that the documents will be available for inspection within 15 days, even if the documents are readily available. FOG believes this procedure does not comply with IPRA.
In this instance, if the records were used to make determinations during this health emergency, then it can be inferred that the records already exist. It follows that state employees used these records to make recommendations. If this is the case, the question remains — why didn’t DOH immediately release the records on request?